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What Alyssa Thomas will bring to Team USA

Thomas is one of only three members of the U.S. women's basketball team competing in their first Olympics, but it would be wrong to call her inexperienced. Her Sun teams have made it deep into the WNBA playoffs, including the 2019 and 2021 WNBA Finals. She also played for USK Prague in the EuroLeague for five years and played seasons in Korea Republic and Turkey.

“I've been playing for a long time. I've played a lot of international basketball, so I know a lot of players on those other teams. Nothing changes for me. I just go in and play my game and try to bring my defensive presence,” Thomas said.

Her defensive presence is impressive, but her game is more versatile than she lets on. Thomas is the WNBA's top player in triple-doubles, and her 9.8 rebounds per game rank fifth in the league. Although she has an unorthodox shooting style due to a torn labrum in her shoulder, Thomas is a reliable shooter in the penalty box.

But Sun Trainer Stephanie White points out that Thomas does so much that doesn't appear in the match report.

“It's difficult because if you look at her performance from a stats perspective, she does pretty much everything. But it's also the little things that she does. I mean, she makes game-winning plays. Whether it's stopping a one-on-one defense, getting a crucial rebound at a crucial moment, making an extra pass or setting up an offensive line. For us, she just makes game-winning plays. And some of them show up in the stats, some of them don't. But I think she's going to be a really crucial glue for Team USA,” White said.

With players like A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart on the team, Thomas will fit in well as a strong presence in the box. Although the team is full of players who have won Olympic medals, WNBA championships and even MVP titles, they are focused on bringing their predecessors an eighth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

“I don't think there are any egos on Team USA. I think that's why they keep winning gold. We have some of the best players in the world and that's scary for other teams when you have that much talent. You're going up against people who have been playing together since they were kids. We come in and yes, we're top players on our teams. But we go in with the common goal of winning gold, so there are no egos,” Thomas said.

DeWanna Bonner's support for her fiancée and teammate

Thomas said one of her biggest supporters on her journey to the U.S. team is her fiancée and Sun teammate DeWanna Bonner. Bonner is the one who can be heard cheering when Rizzotti told Thomas the good news, and Bonner will be cheering Thomas on in France.

“She's super excited about it. I think she asked me every day if I heard anything, if I made the team or not. She was pushing me the whole time. When the Olympics came around last year, I had just had Achilles surgery and was recovering from it. So it's cool to come full circle and I'm just happy to be able to share it with her,” Thomas said.

Bonnar isn't the only one cheering for Thomas. At these Olympics, Thomas said, her family will play a big role.

“I grew up with the Olympics, it was a family thing, so I know they're excited to go to Paris and I'm sure they'll be all over it,” she said.

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